Do small characters have any advantage over medium ones in 2E to make up for their disadvantages?


Rules Discussion


I used to play 3.5 DnD and played a PF campaign with friends, and for some reason I always had something for playing small characters.

In both games, being small gives an advantage in terms of attack bonus, AC and stealth but a disadvantage in contests of strength like grappling and other combat maneuvers and also in intimidation. Also, their physical attacks deal less damage.

In 2E, most of the differences between size categories have been removed, except small characters still have an obvious disadvantage in combat maneuvers since they're more limited in what opponents they can affect at all and start with less HP overall (except for unbreakable goblins).

So, is being small a complete disadvantage, or are there benefits from being small to compensate?


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The only real advantage I know of is the ability to ride smaller mounts and move through larger sized creatures without a check. I don't know how much of a compensation you consider that, and there could be more I don't know about... But the penalties for being size small are also less in this edition as well.


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I don't really think the size thing offers any serious disadvantages.

It's true you can't affect as many enemies with maneuvers because of you're smaller size, but if you're going to focus on maneuvers you're probably going to pick up Titan Wrestler. And that is true of both medium and small creatures.

The less hp, is a small difference that really only matters at the first few levels.

There are some advantages as tividar points out, but they're also small. Personally, I think the small penalties are balanced out by the small advantages.


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The ability to get into confined spaces is also a thing.

Hellknight Hill spoiler:
Goblin-God’s Treasure Room - The entrances to this chamber are narrow—a Small creature can move through them but treats them as difficult terrain, while a Medium creature must succeed at a DC 15 Acrobatics check to Squeeze through them.


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FlashRebel wrote:
In 2E, most of the differences between size categories have been removed, except small characters still have an obvious disadvantage in combat maneuvers since they're more limited in what opponents they can affect at all and start with less HP overall

Umm. While Halflings and Goblins start with 6hp, so do Elves. Gnomes and Leshies start with 8, same as humans, also a boost to Con. So the only issue is using Maneuvers vs. large creatures. That is literally the only drawback to being small. And it's fixed with a level 1 skill feat.


I've had small characters at an advantage for my home game as they assaulted a lair of gremlins, whose small abode would have been difficult to maneuver in for a long shanks. Thankfully I have two goblins, a gnome, and a kobold (homebrew ancestry), so they had no issues.

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BellyBeard wrote:
I've had small characters at an advantage for my home game as they assaulted a lair of gremlins, whose small abode would have been difficult to maneuver in for a long shanks. Thankfully I have two goblins, a gnome, and a kobold (homebrew ancestry), so they had no issues.

3

They're called the crack team?


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It is also easier to carry a small character off the battlefield, which doesn't matter until it does, and then it tends to matter A LOT.


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Captain Morgan wrote:
It is also easier to carry a small character off the battlefield, which doesn't matter until it does, and then it tends to matter A LOT.

Yes, small creatures fit in a backpack and if it's empty, you then take an additional 2 bulk off too meaning you can still carry another under your arm with little issue. A strong 1st level person can carry off 3 small people.


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I know most people have already covered it, but the penalties that small characters used to get are no longer present. There are a "few" things that are different between them but honestly it's not enough to worry about needing set bonuses.


Great answers so far. Actually, I have pretty bad memories of trying to make viable small melee characters back in DnD and being easily shut down by any monster of large size who just had to initiate a grapple. A +8 relative bonus on top of absurd strength was all they needed. I ended up maxing out Escape Artist just to make sure I could break free and run away because of how poorly balanced this whole system was - past a certain point, Escape Artist was a get-out-of-grapples-free card against most monsters of non-aburd size.

It's actually a good thing that small creatures are no longer forced into specific roles not for some natural advantages but because of some glaring weaknesses. I mainly wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything.


Guess athletics checks to trip/shove/grab.

Beign small is a sensible disadvantage.


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Last session in my Age of Ashes campaign, the party was able to throw the two small party members over a hazard, but the heavier medium size party members had to walk through it.


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FlashRebel wrote:


In 2E, most of the differences between size categories have been removed, except small characters still have an obvious disadvantage in combat maneuvers since they're more limited in what opponents they can affect at all and start with less HP overall (except for unbreakable goblins).

So, is being small a complete disadvantage, or are there benefits from being small to compensate?

Honestly I think the real question is, is there any difference between small and medium creatures that matters.

From a pure combat standpoint small creatures are no harder to hit than medium ones but also do no less damage.

I don't actually like this. Smaller means less damage and less ability to dominate in a fight. It also means you are harder to hit nd can maneuver where the larger ones can't. This is part of the fun of playing the halfling or the gnome. I have no idea what they thought they were fixing.

If you played a little martial character you relied on dex and there were dozens of ways to make up for the size penalties. Unless I am missing something a halfing sized two handed sword does the same damage in his hand as the 6'5" half orc. How does that work out.


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When you are a powerful, fancy protagonist, it's more about how you fight. And Small races really aren't that much smaller than the Medium folk anyway. Sure, you could make up the downsides of size in 1E, but generally not excel to the degree of others. 2E seems intent on letting any race do about as well as any of the others in a core competency, with options, unique features and the spread of other competencies being what sets them apart most of the time.


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Indi523 wrote:
FlashRebel wrote:


In 2E, most of the differences between size categories have been removed, except small characters still have an obvious disadvantage in combat maneuvers since they're more limited in what opponents they can affect at all and start with less HP overall (except for unbreakable goblins).

So, is being small a complete disadvantage, or are there benefits from being small to compensate?

Honestly I think the real question is, is there any difference between small and medium creatures that matters.

From a pure combat standpoint small creatures are no harder to hit than medium ones but also do no less damage.

I don't actually like this. Smaller means less damage and less ability to dominate in a fight. It also means you are harder to hit nd can maneuver where the larger ones can't. This is part of the fun of playing the halfling or the gnome. I have no idea what they thought they were fixing.

If you played a little martial character you relied on dex and there were dozens of ways to make up for the size penalties. Unless I am missing something a halfing sized two handed sword does the same damage in his hand as the 6'5" half orc. How does that work out.

Same way a fighter in D&D 3.5 deals more damage than a tarrasque sometimes.

The mecanics really should not try to make reality and just focus on making a good game instead.


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I didn't expect so many answers to the thread, honestly.

Now for a funnier question, would you consider this as a benefit or a disadvantage of being small?


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FlashRebel wrote:

I didn't expect so many answers to the thread, honestly.

Now for a funnier question, would you consider this as a benefit or a disadvantage of being small?

I haven't ready any athletics check on the CRB, but I could have missed it.

In a combat scenario, I see that as a disadvantage for small races.

Quote:

PFS Legal Whirling Throw Single ActionFeat 6

Monk
Source Core Rulebook pg. 162
Requirements You have a creature grabbed or restrained.
You propel your grabbed or restrained foe a great distance. You can throw the creature any distance up to 10 feet, plus 5 feet × your Strength modifier. If you successfully throw the creature, it takes bludgeoning damage equal to your Strength modifier plus 1d6 per 10 feet you threw it.

Attempt an Athletics check against the foe’s Fortitude DC. You take a –2 circumstance penalty to your check if the target is one size larger than you and a –4 circumstance penalty if it’s larger than that. You gain a +2 circumstance bonus to your check if the target is one size smaller than you and a +4 circumstance bonus if it’s smaller than that.

Critical Success You throw the creature the desired distance and it lands prone.
Success You throw the creature the desired distance.
Failure You don’t throw the creature.
Critical Failure You don’t throw the creature, and it’s no longer grabbed or restrained by you.

That said, apart from whirling throw I found nothing, but it is clear that throwing small creatures is easier than throwing larger ones.

And the bonus is probably meant to underline both size and weight differences.


tivadar27 wrote:
The only real advantage I know of is the ability to ride smaller mounts

It doesn't really work since a medium creature can't carry a fully equipped small creature - except if you assume a halfling with his equipment weights less than equipment (in which case, any smart PC will use halfling corpse to carry more equipment).


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Bard: "What is that you are carrying?"

Barbarian: "Oh this?" *Points at halfling corpse slung over shoulder.
"This is my halfling of holding."

Bard: "Ah. Yeah, that makes sense."

On topic, I am actually glad that they got rid of the larger differences between the smaller races and the medium ones. Mostly they just relegated smaller folk to less front line tasks. I like the idea of a stout Halfling Paladin holding the line instead of making him go rogue in another life/ edition of the game.

Also while it doesn't make a ton of sense, I also like that Small and Medium creature gear is essentially interchangeable. It makes looting so much simpler. Now you don't have to notate that each weapon pulled from a small creature is small, and the stats are identical. It all just goes into "loot".

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Indi523 wrote:

Honestly I think the real question is, is there any difference between small and medium creatures that matters.

From a pure combat standpoint small creatures are no harder to hit than medium ones but also do no less damage.

I don't actually like this. Smaller means less damage and less ability to dominate in a fight. It also means you are harder to hit and can maneuver where the larger ones can't. This is part of the fun of playing the halfling or the gnome. I have no idea what they thought they were fixing.

If you played a little martial character you relied on dex and there were dozens of ways to make up for the size penalties. Unless I am missing something a halfing sized two handed sword does the same damage in his hand as the 6'5" half orc. How does that work out.

Most of the small races take a strength penalty and/or get a dexterity bonus, so small => nimble combatant is still a thing, it's just not quite as prevalent. If you want to make a high strength build, halflings still aren't an obvious choice. But if you want to make a mean shanky shivvy rogue, goblins and halflings make a lot of sense.


Gaterie wrote:
tivadar27 wrote:
The only real advantage I know of is the ability to ride smaller mounts
It doesn't really work since a medium creature can't carry a fully equipped small creature - except if you assume a halfling with his equipment weights less than equipment (in which case, any smart PC will use halfling corpse to carry more equipment).

A medium creature can carry a fully equipped small creature (not every fully equipped small creature)... it's just likely to be encumbered while doing so unless it is freakishly strong.


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Also: Bulk != Weight.

Some things are bulky but not heavy. Others heavy but not bulky. Some are neither or both.

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Ascalaphus wrote:
Most of the small races take a strength penalty and/or get a dexterity bonus, so small => nimble combatant is still a thing, it's just not quite as prevalent. If you want to make a high strength build, halflings still aren't an obvious choice. But if you want to make a mean shanky shivvy rogue, goblins and halflings make a lot of sense.

When my group first created a batch of characters for PF2, one brought an Strength 18 Gnome (using Voluntary Flaws) Fighter with a Gnome Flickmace + Shield combination: That particular character didn't make it into our actual campaign, mainly due to the number of 'yo-yo' jokes it created...

Personally, I went the other 'small martial' route with a Halfling Thief and Dex to Damage.

Honestly, small martials should be about as effective as Merry & Pippin at the end of the Fellowship of the Ring, but that probably doesn't really make for a fun game...


beowulf99 wrote:


Also while it doesn't make a ton of sense, I also like that Small and Medium creature gear is essentially interchangeable. It makes looting so much simpler. Now you don't have to notate that each weapon pulled from a small creature is small, and the stats are identical. It all just goes into "loot".

That's not 100% true, while damage dice are identical across weapons of all sizes, and AC bonuses with armor, bulk is different (with all items, not just beyond M/S), and thus so is resell price (only past med/small. tiny and large are 1/2 & 2x respectively), so if you loot goblins, no difference (outside of encumbrance); tiny fey or large giants, and you got some math on your hands on top of weight.


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nick1wasd wrote:
beowulf99 wrote:


Also while it doesn't make a ton of sense, I also like that Small and Medium creature gear is essentially interchangeable. It makes looting so much simpler. Now you don't have to notate that each weapon pulled from a small creature is small, and the stats are identical. It all just goes into "loot".
That's not 100% true, while damage dice are identical across weapons of all sizes, and AC bonuses with armor, bulk is different (with all items, not just beyond M/S), and thus so is resell price (only past med/small. tiny and large are 1/2 & 2x respectively), so if you loot goblins, no difference (outside of encumbrance); tiny fey or large giants, and you got some math on your hands on top of weight.

You got a citation on bulk being different for small characters than it is for medium characters?


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Yeah, I haven't seen anything to indicate small/medium Bulk is different...


thenobledrake wrote:
nick1wasd wrote:
beowulf99 wrote:


Also while it doesn't make a ton of sense, I also like that Small and Medium creature gear is essentially interchangeable. It makes looting so much simpler. Now you don't have to notate that each weapon pulled from a small creature is small, and the stats are identical. It all just goes into "loot".
That's not 100% true, while damage dice are identical across weapons of all sizes, and AC bonuses with armor, bulk is different (with all items, not just beyond M/S), and thus so is resell price (only past med/small. tiny and large are 1/2 & 2x respectively), so if you loot goblins, no difference (outside of encumbrance); tiny fey or large giants, and you got some math on your hands on top of weight.
You got a citation on bulk being different for small characters than it is for medium characters?

I apparently misread the bulk sidebar in the Equipment chapter, small and medium are in the same bracket, and I misread that they were in different ones... Carry on, I'm blind

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Taja the Barbarian wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
Most of the small races take a strength penalty and/or get a dexterity bonus, so small => nimble combatant is still a thing, it's just not quite as prevalent. If you want to make a high strength build, halflings still aren't an obvious choice. But if you want to make a mean shanky shivvy rogue, goblins and halflings make a lot of sense.

When my group first created a batch of characters for PF2, one brought an Strength 18 Gnome (using Voluntary Flaws) Fighter with a Gnome Flickmace + Shield combination: That particular character didn't make it into our actual campaign, mainly due to the number of 'yo-yo' jokes it created...

Personally, I went the other 'small martial' route with a Halfling Thief and Dex to Damage.

Honestly, small martials should be about as effective as Merry & Pippin at the end of the Fellowship of the Ring, but that probably doesn't really make for a fun game...

So it cost the gnome more to be a strength-based martial than it cost the halfling to be a dex-based "martial" (rogues hit hard enough and compete for best AC, might as well call them a martial).

It looks to me like it's working exactly as intended: small races are biased towards Dex-y fighting styles. But not quite so heavily that going Strength-based is really unviable.

The rules should make a good compromise between immersion and viability. Being too harshly realistic with regards to the downsides of being small and making them painfully weaker wouldn't be fun. Erasing all mechanical difference would break so much immersion that it also wouldn't be fun. So, a compromise, like we have right now.

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